Thursday, July 3, 2014

Phang Gna Bay Thailand in Pictures






Koh Muk

Here we are anchored on the island of Koh Muk. It looks peaceful now but later that night we were hit by a localised tropical storm that had the boat swinging madly from side to side on its anchor.






This part of Thailand is famous for its "hongs" which means room in Thai. This one is called Emerald Cave and is entered by swimming or paddling through a dark tunnel.
 
 
The end of the tunnel opens up to reveal a small beach and jungle garden fully enclosed by towering rock walls.




Out again into the open sea.


 
Same island but a different side. We joined cruising friends in this beautiful bay. Good food. Good company.





 
We went exploring and found this great little coffee shop.





The famous Phi Phi Island which is beautiful but.....
 



crowded with these phizz boats that bring hundreds of tourists to swamp the island



 
Ao Chalong
The main port for Phuket Island.
This is where we take our passports and boat's papers to clear in to Thailand.






 
Our anniversary bay.
We took the dinghy to this little bay with drinks and snacks. Unfortunately a very large male monkey had ownership of the beach and demanded food in a very threatening way, so our celebration was a bit hasty!








Exploring in our dinghy.








Koh Lanta celebrates Songkran or the Thai Water Festival. Everyone goes out onto the streets and has a great time spraying water at each other. No chance of staying dry, but it doesn't matter because it is so hot!





We visited a school on the island of Ko Po......





 
 
Oral hygiene seems to be a priority. 







Village on Koh Po






Koh Po kids having fun






Old Koh Lanta Town is a lovely laid back town with a few touristy shops and good restaurants overlooking the water.






Koh Lanta Old Town





 
 

Koh Lanta restaurants would rival many five star restaurants for location.







 
 
 
 
Koh Lanta is quiet enough for even me to venture on the roads by bike



But the road hazards are not what we are used to in Perth!



The anchorage at Koh Lanta Old Town. A sombre sight for a yachty. 




Rob doing a good impersonation of Gilligan on Koh Rang Yai.






The arduous 10 minute walk across the island of Koh Rang Yai to the restaurant on the other side.
Watch out for falling coconuts!






 
 
The tourists had only an hour to enjoy Koh Rang Yai whereas we could be there indefinitely.







Ahh! Tourists all gone. Time to relax.















Back in the big smoke of Phuket Old Town with its beautifully restored Sino Colonial buildings





 
A girl's day out exploring Phuket Old Town.



The back lanes of Old Phuket Town.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

On anchor in Thailand

A misty and rainy Phang Nga Bay




Hi folks. We are at last back on anchor in Phang Nga Bay and it's been something of a trial to get here but here we are, rocking gently from side to side under the leaden skies of a typical wet season day. The last blog had me up this way sneeking a few weeks on the boat in between check ups. Well, I flew back on the 27th of April and had the biopsy and then waited about 2 weeks for what were pretty good results. No sign of anything unpleasant down the oesophagus and next check up in 4 months. All's clear at this stage. So it was then a mad dash to book tickets, tidy up the Busselton house, catch up with family and friends and get my back side on the Air Asia shuttle we are getting to know so well. Diana rang and said we are short on Twisties and milk powder. You cannot buy Twisties in Thailand which  is a national disgrace and the milk powder is sweetened and quite foul. So I ducked down to the supermarket and I also bought 6 months supply of my reflux medications which amounts to about 360 tablets. So you can appreciate my slight concern as I approached the luggage xray knowing I had 6kg of packages containg a white powdery substance as well 360 tablets of supposed reflux medication. No probleemo friends. The only other possible headline waiting to happen involved the Twisties. I had them in my overhead locker and when I went to get my kindle from said locker I noticed the twisties had all filled with air and were ready to burst. I sat back down and waited for the series of muffled pops to go off while airline staff assumed terrorist attack mode and requested an emergency landing. You could imagine their surprise as the anti-terrorist -squad carefully opened the overhead locker and were showered in Twisties. What a waste. Anyway, the Twisties packets hung in there and were enjoyed along with a cold beer back on the boat in Yacht Haven.

Motley and Diana had to vacate to a nearby condo while a "little" paint job was done


Diana had been busy while I was away and it was great to uncover all the impovements she had done on The Doc. A new toilet in forward head was perhaps the best improvement as anyone who has lived with a dying pump action variety can testify to. There was a new paint job down below, leaks sorted, patches of rot gone, stainless looking like new, topsides shining, new bow shades and the list goes on. She is certainly a can do girl.

Hazan putting on a coat of varnish on the toe rail


Our exit out of the pen was delayed due to a tropical ulcer type thing I had on the back of my leg. I should have got it sorted in Perth but time ran out and we decided to get it looked at in Phuket. We found the Phuket Bangkok Hospital and basically were seen straight away. Anyway, long story short, the dressing needed to be changed every 2 days so we had a week in Phuket we weren't expecting. There is an area called old Phuket town and its full of classic sino-chinese style restaurants that serve all types of food. It is quite near the hospital so it made sense to call in for lunch. The best was Dibuks and we highly recommend it.So it was quite nice to have the week to just poke around Phuket. We hired a car for the hospital days and by the end of the week were finally getting into the "driving in Phuket' mode. It's mad. It's like driving along Leach Highway at peak hour without any road rules and surrounded by a 1000 year 10s on mopeds. I kid you not. It takes a day to recover. We were looking forward to just getting away from the crowds and out into the space and breeze of Phang Nga Bay.

The marina supplies boat boys who help in your exit and entry into the pens and as it happened, we needed them big time. Just before we left, Zara, the marina manager had come by to have a chat about looking after Motley. As she left she asked when we'd had our prop last cleaned. I said just before we'd come in and she looked kind of concerned and said, ummm, might be pretty bad. No worries said I, we'll do it out on anchor. Diana backed out and the boat boys guided our stern around with their inflatable and it was all too easy.
" Rob.....got a problem.....plenty of revs but not much forward motion......Damn", we thought, barnacles on the prop, maybe we can shake em off as we go. Well we got out of the marina and headed down the channel against the tide, and we were going nowhere fast. I put the revs up and it made no difference apart from some ugly vibrations pounding through the hull. The decision to turn back is never an easy one but this was dangerous so we radioed up and headed back in. The boat crew were waiting and helped us tie up, and after a quick chat one of them was volunteered to go over with scraper and do the deed......for 1000bht, about 33 bucks. Not a bad deal as that's probably his weekly wage for half an hour's work.
 
Approaching rain squall


The prop was cleaned and with the tide easing to slack water we made our way easily down the channel and into the first of many squalls. Its wet season up here so you have to expect some weather. We finally made it to the anchorage which is behind a 300 m vertical limestone cliff face. Soft grey misty clouds cover the tops and its like being in the Scottish highlands except its 30 degrees and you're wearing bathers. Rain squalls appear and disappear in a matter of seconds and apart from some roll its very pleasant. We'll be here for about a week and then its back to the marina and then down to Penang for a visa run. Till next time, bye for now. Rob

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We're back

Resort near Talaga, Langkawi
 
 
Greetings dear blog followers and a warm hullo from steamy Thailand. Well, this is my first blog for almost a year and so a short update is called for. Diana and I left the boat in Rebak Malaysia last year around the end of May and headed home. We moved into our place in Busselton having declined the tenants' request to extend their contract and what a good move that was. The original tenants as per the lease were a lovely couple from Perth who had a family crisis and were in need of a new start. Well, lovely couple from Perth get jobs driving across Australia as wide load security drivers and invite their son and his mate as our new tenants. A long story short the house is quickly deteriorating in the hands of these two and Mum's weekly visits arn't really helping. So we got back in time and the lesson is be very careful when putting your house in the hands of property managers who have 300 or so houses on their books, they really don't care.
So it took a while to sort out repairs and in no time it was July 23rd and Diana was booked on a flight back to Rebak, the boat and Motley. I was going to stay in Perth and get the house ready for short term rental and then fly back in October. As it happened, the process of preparing for short term rental is more complicated than it appears and so I was still in Perth when Diana flew back for Christmas 2013.
 
We had a lovely Christmas and were all ready to jump on a flight back to Rebak on January 16th to resume cruising when life threw your proverbial spanner into the mix. I had been using my time in Perth to get a comprehensive health check done and a little problem popped up. I remember it was January 3rd or 4th when I started seeing the gastro about sorting it out and I asked him could I still make the flight on the 16th. He looked at me in his pleasant and reassuring way and said, "you might have to put your plans on hold for a while". Anyway, long story short, it was a couple of spots of early stage cancer of the oesophagus but we got it before it had developed into sub mucosal stage and therefore before radical surgery was required. Once things had become clear Diana flew back to take over Motley minding and I was to come up within a few weeks once the all clear was finally given.
That, however, wouldn't be until late in April. April is a big month for us. We have our anniversary on the 6th and then on the 26th it was Diana's big, special birthday that ends in a 0. The only clue I can give is that now bus travel will now be cheaper for one of us. So I asked Dr Spiro Raftopulous if we could postpone the check up till the end of April and he said fine, see you on the 1st of May.
So dear readers, on the 11th of March I did the old Air Asia horror back to Rebak with the aim of getting the boat out of Rebak marina and to at least have a taste of Thailand. Which we have done. And now I'll tell you a bit about that if you are still awake.
 
Back on board

It was quite a joy to steer the Doc out of the marina. What had, at times, looked like a closed chapter in the great narrative of ones life had now flipped open to a new page. The Doc was in great shape and all praise to Diana who had been busy keeping up maintenance and adding improvements along the way. After refuelling in Telaga we poked our nose out around the island and were met with a 20 knot headwind for our run to Lipe and the waters of Thailand. So we did what all smart sailors do and we headed back and dropped the anchor. Next day we had more pleasant conditions and well before lunch we dropped anchor on the west side of the southern bay on Koh Lipe.
 
 

Koh Lipe is one of those islands in the run from Langkawi to Phuket that has got the tourist infection. The beachfront along the southern bay is a mess of bars, backpapers, bronze flesh and muffler free long tails. There is a strip of restaurants, massage joints and tourist junk shops leading up from the beach and it runs for about half a kilometre. We were sitting in one of the restaurants under what must be one of the great inventions of all time, the electric fan, and surveying our welcome back Thai menu. They are mostly photographic by design and have plastic sleeves which you thumb through doing your standard mental arithmetic at the same time. OK, divide by thirty. Main course 150 bht, salad 80 bht, cold beer 40 bht.....total 270 ht..... oz dollars about 9...The servings are big and the value is excellent. Welcome back to Thailand we said and clinked our frosty beers. Coming up........Koh Muk and the emerald cave.
 
Motley crew getting back into the cruising life
 

Monday, January 13, 2014

A RESORT WITH A CONSCIENCE

I was getting a bit cocky I think, and I was feeling pretty relaxed as I lifted the anchor from the disgusting black mud of the Kuah city anchorage. It took some 20 minutes or so using the deck wash to hose off the squid ink black goo off the anchor. I was happily motoring through the anchored boasts looking forward to a new anchorage at Cenang Beach. Then the worst possible happened. The motor slowed and then gently faded to a deafening silence. OK, me thinks, no motor, lots of anchored boats around. What now? I knew straight away the cause of the problem. I had equalized the two fuel tanks, but instead of having equal tanks, the diesel was in just one tank. The wrong one, of course!  A stiff breeze was thankfully blowing us out into the open water, so I hoisted the jib to give me some control of the boat. I quickly engaged the auto helm and changed over the tanks. I tried the motor a couple of times.....no go. Plan B was to drop the anchor and try to sort things out while still in shallow water, so I furled the sail and tried the ignition one more time. Hurray! The engine fired into life. With my confidence shaken somewhat, it took me much of the two hour sail to Cenang to calm myself down. A just reward was dropping anchor off beautiful Cenang Beach right outside the Frangipani resort.

My Frangipani Resort guide

The next day I rowed ashore, washed the slime off the dinghy compliments of a week in Kuah and walked into the beautiful resort for a coffee while I waited for the start of the eco tour I had promised myself. I was the only participant, so got a really good low down on the features if this amazing place. It feels like a regular resort, with restaurants and bars overlooking the beach, swimming pools and lush tropical gardens but behind the scenes, everything has been considered,  environmentally.

Mr Wong, the owner said that beating the environmental drum has little affect, but an appeal to the bottom line, works wonders. In this vein the resort collects rainwater and saves, uses solar hot water and saves, recycles grey and black water and saves. The features go on and on. There is a farm on the premises that provides fresh vegetables, fruit, chickens fish and ducks, all nourished  by scraps from the kitchen and gardens. The artist in residence has a  brief to produce work from recycled raw materials. There is also a workshop that recycles broken furniture into functional pieces.
All black and gray water is cleansed through a series of ponds and reeds, then used to water the gardens

Kitchen and garden waste is composted and used to mulch the kitchen and other gardens

Collected rainwater is used to flush toilets


Everything has a secondary use

A squid fishing light globe transformed into an art work by the artist in residence

To say the least it was inspirational and the resort is leading the way hopefully for resorts everywhere. It was a great contrast to much of SE Asia where there is little consideration for aesthetics, let alone the environment.

GIVING BACK

CHARITY WORK
Kuah City anchorage

With some time up my sleeve and feeling a bit lonely in the anchorage at Kuah, an email request for help by the Langkawi Charity Club couldn't have come at a better time. The request was to help out at a stall at Green Week hosted by the Frangipani Resort.

We set up a stall selling the charities fund raising cook books, batik bags, bandannas and passport covers. In reality there weren't too many sales apart from what I bought, but it was good publicity and well worth the effort as the resort donated 2000RM to the charity.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DOING IT ALONE


DOING IT ALONE

Taking the boat out with Tina’s help had given me some confidence that I could take the boat out by myself. Langkawi has fairly benign sailing conditions, apart from the odd tropical thunderstorm, and the navigation is pretty straight forward. It isn’t like say Rottnest, or anywhere on the west coast of Australia where anchorages are often shallow and reef strewn. To be extra sure though, I did wait for my friends Ann and Steve on Recluse to act as my “buddy boat”.

We were out of the marina without a hitch and we rendezvoused with Recluse off Telaga Harbour, just a few miles away. As we motored (no wind) along the west coast of Langkawi it didn’t feel any different being on the boat alone. It just felt like Rob was down below reading or having a nap. I was surprised though at how busy the solo sailor is! The jobs aren’t shared so navigating, checking the engine and instruments, dropping the anchor, watching to see if it has taken, putting the anchor snubber on, recording the log, putting up the shades, launching the dinghy, fuelling up the outboard. It goes on and on. Motley is absolutely no help at all. If only she could take the wheel occasionally. She does love to be on anchor though and seems to rediscover her kitten ways, leaping from boom to bimini and back again. The first few days I was exhausted and collapsed in a heap at the end of each day. It was probably partly due to nervous energy too.

 
Teluk Datai

The first anchorage was Teluk Datai, a beautiful horse shoe shaped bay with a a long white sandy beach flanked on each end by Langkawi’s most exclusive resorts The Datai and The Andaman. Steve and I attempted yoga on their finely tended beach, but the sand was too wet after the evening’s rain. I need to talk to management about that.

One of the advantages of being on anchor is that you can get in the water and clean the water line from the muck and slime that tends to accumulate in marinas. Barnacles also affix themselves to the hull and propeller. I hate diving under the boat to clean the undersides and propeller. I get anxious about running out of air and getting stuck under there. I was determined to give it a go though, and managed with each dive to get perhaps one barnacle off, before launching myself back up to the surface, gasping for air. It was while I was hanging on to the side of the boat recovering between dives, when I felt a thump on my back. I turned to see a huge, ugly brown jelly fish drifting down with the tide. I panicked of course and tried to push it away with the paint scraper that I was using for the barnacles, but my arm disappeared up to my elbow in the glutinous mass. Ugh! I sprang back on the boat and radioed up Ann. “I’ve been stung by a jelly fish!” It had managed to sting me on the back right in the spot between my rashy and bikini bottom.  I actually did know that these jellyfish aren’t lethal, but it had given me such a scare. I decided then and there that the prop can keep its barnacles for all I care!
 

Kindly Greg and Ali on Rex radioed up with some advice on how to treat the sting. Ali had been stung the day before and after some internet research they had treated the sting with a vinegar soaked rag and scraped the stings out by coating the area with shaving cream and then used the flat of a knife to scrape out the barbs. These ugly monsters can grow to three metres across!

More pleasantly, I launched my surf ski early one morning and paddled around a small nearby island in the bay. The island is almost joined at low tide by a narrow coral isthmus. As I floated over the coral admiring the tropical fish, I stopped in my tracks as a family of a dozen monkeys lead by a large male carefully waded across in front of me to the small island. Some found the water too deep and swam, but mothers with babies clinging to their stomachs carefully stood on their hind legs and picked the shallow parts to spare their babes a dunking. They were completely unconcerned about my presence only 15 metres away. I was wary of the very large patriarch and made sure I knew where he was. I didn’t want to get on his bad side!

A pleasant few days passed and we only moved on as some heavy rain and associated winds were predicted. It was very comforting having Recluse along just in case something came up that I couldn’t deal with. But so far so good!

Diana

Sunday, December 1, 2013

BREAKING FREE OF MARINA LIFE


BREAKING FREE OF MARINA LIFE

With visa requirements taken care of my thoughts went to moving the boat out and in to fresh air and clean water. Marina life at Rebak Island is very comfortable with air con., active social life and easy trips by ferry to the main island of Langkawi. Many stay for months if not years, and it seems that the longer you stay the harder it is to leave. However the gypsy in me was yearning for a change of scene. I was considering taking the boat out by myself, something I had never done before, but as luck would have it my friend Tina arrived on the scene. She had just retired and was at a bit of a loss.  During my congratulatory call to her I said “Why not come over here? Start retirement with a bang, not a whimper!” Three days later, a tired and somewhat stressed Tina arrived at Langkawi Airport.

It was hard work preparing the boat after it had been laid up for  more than six months and we both sweated away removing covers , checking systems, topping up water and the myriad of jobs required before heading out. After a few days of preparing the boat, shopping and enjoying the marina resort’s facilities we were off.

Rob and I after all the years sailing together,  are a well oiled team, each with their own jobs and responsibilities but now I had to think of everything. Tina was a fantastic crew who despite being a novice at sailing, was prepared to give anything a go and best of all at least pretended that she had utmost faith in me!

First mate, Tina




We let off the lines and backed out of the pen without a hitch and my spirits soared as we headed for the open water.  We put up the sails for a much needed airing and we were pleasantly surprised that we could turn off the motor and get along at 3 knots. Any motor less sailing around here is a bonus. We dropped anchor in the spectacular Fiords anchorage safely sheltered on all sides by tall cliffs and mountains. Our days were spent watching with awe the antics of the eagles. They swooped for fish and sometimes, competing birds waged air battles, dive bombing and executing perfect barrel rolls.  Swimming and paddling the surf ski built up quite a thirst and quite a dent was made on the ship’s store of Sapphire. The sun over the yard arm rule was stretched somewhat now and then. Not completely idle, the inevitable boat jobs needed attending to, which although annoying, are part of the cruising life.

A long way from last week's office


More challenging was lifting the anchor, the chain inconveniently jammed in the hawse pipe (where the chain is fed into the boat). Pulling from one end or the other failed to budge it but I had one last trick up my sleeve and got Tina to reverse the boat using its weight and the engine to pull the chain free. The bow of the boat and I looked like a scene from mud wrestling Australia. But we were free and one more lesson was learnt. By the way, a big thank you goes out to the boat that motored on past smiling with obvious  Schadenfreude at our difficulties. (Not that I was anywhere near asking for help, but an “Are you OK?”  would have been neighbourly. )

 

A few days at anchor did us both so much good.  Tina visibly relaxed and left her stressful job behind her and apart from loving being on anchor again, my self confidence in managing the boat by myself, grew. Nine days went by in a flash and before we knew it Tina was back at the airport hopefully with a fresh start to retired life.
Diana